Friday, December 14, 2018
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Photo credit: Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos 

One of the most prestigious piping competitions in the world, the Pipe Major Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition, has been secured in its home town of Stornoway for the next few years thanks to a lifeline donation from wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Point and Sandwick, which runs the community-owned turbines at Beinn Ghrideag, has pledged £5,000 to the competition every year for five years.

It means the annual competition, which is organised by the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, can continue to be held in Stornoway, instead of having to be relocated to somewhere like Glasgow to reduce costs.

The competition costs a lot of money to stage – around £11,000 – because the Piping Society foots the bill for the air fares and accommodation for all the pipers taking part, as well as the judges.

Roadworks will be carried out at Breakish between 7 May to 8 June.

BEAR Scotland will be carrying out drainage and verge improvements on the A87 trunk road.

The works cover the final phase of ongoing improvements to the drainage system in Breakish with associated provision of a hardened verge, starting at the Old Church House and ending 5-10 metres into the Sleat/Armadale junction, directly opposite the existing footway.

The works are provisionally programmed for between May and June and will be carried out between 7am to 5pm daily.

Constructions will be carried out under temporary traffic lights with single lane closure.  

Kate Forbes made history today (Thursday 29 March) as she became the first female MSP to give a plenary speech entirely in Gaelic in the current Scottish Parliament chamber.

Ms Forbes said she decided to give her speech in Gaelic, during a debate on Scotland’s support for the (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, to show that the language was not dead.

Fellow MSPs in the chamber were able to follow her contribution as it was simultaneously translated through headsets.

Winnie Ewing gave a full speech in Gaelic back in 2000 whilst the Parliament met in the Church of Scotland General Assembly hall on the Mound in Edinburgh. Fiona Hyslop and Linda Fabiani have previously given part of their ministerial responses in Gaelic in the present Parliament chamber, whilst several male MSPs including Alasdair Allan and Dave Thompson have given entire plenary speeches in the language.

MSPs at the Scottish Parliament have decided to host a further hearing on a petition seeking to reverse the proposed controversial redesign of healthcare services in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

Kate Forbes MSP called for the petition to remain open, along with cross party Highland MSPs, because of unresolved ‘grave concerns’ about healthcare provision in the north of Skye, and the Public Petitions Committee agreed to defer a decision on the final course of action on the petition until a separate review by Sir Lewis Ritchie is completed.

The Holyrood petition, which was first heard in 2015, calls for an Independent Scrutiny Panel (ISP) to be established to examine NHS Highland’s major service change proposals in the region.

Today’s (Thursday 29 March) committee meeting was the ninth time the petition has been discussed by MSPs.

A woman in difficulties at Coral Beach was rescued by the coastguard.

Dunvegan, Duntulm and Portree teams assisted the lost woman and she was recovered safe and well yesterday (Wednesday 28 March.)

Above is a picture of the casualty with her rescuers safely back at the road.  Picture from HM Coastguard, Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber Facebook page.

 

The new National Gaelic Language Plan, which sets out the framework for the faster growth of the language across Scotland, has been launched yesterday (Wednesday 28th March) at the Scottish Parliament.

The central purpose of the Plan is to encourage and enable more people to use Gaelic more often and in a wider range of situations.  The key messages, aims, priorities and new commitments contained in the Plan all contribute to achieving this increased use of Gaelic.  Principal amongst these are the following:

Gaelic belongs to the whole of Scotland
Promoting a positive image of Gaelic
Increasing the learning of Gaelic; and
Increasing the use of Gaelic

Kate Forbes MSP will today (Thursday 29 March) become only the second female MSP – and the first in the current Scottish Parliament chamber – to give an entire speech in Gaelic during a plenary debate.

Ms Forbes, who chairs Holyrood’s cross-party group on the language, is expected to give her whole contribution in Gaelic as MSPs consider a motion on Scotland’s support for the (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Those in the chamber will be able to follow her speech as it is simultaneously translated through headsets.

Winnie Ewing gave a full speech in Gaelic back in 2000 whilst the Parliament met in the Church of Scotland General Assembly hall on the Mound in Edinburgh.

Fiona Hyslop and Linda Fabiani have previously given part of their ministerial responses in Gaelic in the present Parliament chamber, whilst several male MSPs including Alasdair Allan and Dave Thompson have given entire plenary speeches in the language. 

An event was held on Saturday 24 March to celebrate the end of the Raasay Roots Fruits and Shoots project.

An application for further funding was unsuccessful.  However, the team behind the project are continuing to look for other sources of funding to ensure the garden continues to be productive.  

Raasay Walled Garden Facebook states: "Whilst this is a real blow following the huge progress we have made over the last year we are continuing to look for other funding streams and are discussing with the board of Raasay House Community Company (who own and manage the house and garden on behalf of the community) whether they can continue to employ a gardener until additional funding is found and / or in the absence of any other funding.

Twelve people have benefited from an employability course held on Skye.

The five day course took place at Kyleakin last week and was aimed at supporting unemployed people prepare for work, specifically focussing on the job opportunities coming to the area following the announcement that Marine Harvest are opening a new plant.

The course, commissioned by The Highland Council’s Employability Team, delivered in association with West Highland College UHI and Job Centre Plus covered a wide range of topics and provided many practical tips. These included sessions researching employment opportunities, building self-esteem and confidence, training on completing application forms and creating CVs, holding mock interviews and covering basic health and safety guidance.

At the end of the week all those taking part were presented with a SQA Certificate in Employability Skills and an RYA Certificate in Maritime First Aid. They also had an opportunity to meet with a representative from Marine Harvest to discuss the job opportunities expected when the plant at Kyleakin opens.

The initiative for a micro abattoir on Skye has been welcomed by the Crofting Commission.

Crofting Commission Convenor, Rod Mackenzie said: "It's great to see this volunteer group take the initiative and look to providing an abattoir based in Skye, a similar project was also launched in Shetland a few years ago and it has gone from strength to strength.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is reviewing its decision to reject two Skye crofters' mortgage application because they had received Croft House Grant funding from the Scottish Government.

Last week Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity wrote to the Royal Bank of Scotland urging them to give fair mortgage offers to crofters.

Currently, those in receipt of the Croft House Grant have been unable to secure an RBS mortgage because the bank fears in the event of insolvency that the Scottish Government's rights to recover monies under the scheme would rank ahead of the financial institution's right to recover the home loan.

The saga came to light after crofters on the Isle of Skye raised the matter with constituency MSP Kate Forbes.

Stagecoach have officially launched contactless payments throughout buses in Moray and the Highlands.

Buses from Inverness and Elgin, to Skye, Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney will all benefit from the latest technology.

To mark the deployment of contactless payments on buses, the local bus operator showcased the new technology in an event held at Inverness Airport.

The initiative allows passengers to pay for their travel with a contactless credit or debit card, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay.  There are currently over 100 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK.

MSPs at the Scottish Parliament will this week consider again a petition seeking an independent review into the redesign of healthcare services by NHS Highland in Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross.

On Thursday (29 March 2018) the cross-party Public Petitions Committee will discuss the matter for the ninth time, having already written on numerous occasions to NHS Highland and the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison.

Although not a member of the committee, Skye MSP Kate Forbes intends to attend the meeting to represent the grave concerns of her constituents.

The Highland Council is advising low income households, including home-owners, to apply for help to reduce their Council Tax. Eligible households can receive up to 100% reduction from their Council Tax which means that those households who receive the full reduction will only have to pay their Scottish Water and Wastewater charges.

For a Band D property, 100% reduction is equivalent to £1,233.82 for 2018/19. Households can quickly check whether they are eligible for these reductions by completing the Council’s innovative ‘Apply Once’ online application form which is available at the following link: www.highland.gov.uk/applyonce

This form will automatically identify any other entitlements that are administered by the Council based on the individual circumstances of the applicant. Applicants supply their details only once and the Council will put into payment all entitlements that are legitimately payable.

The Skye Mountain Rescue Team were out over the weekend testing and getting to grips with their new off road vehicle - a six wheeled Polaris, which is sure to be a valuable asset to the team.

The Polaris is designed with great off road capabilities and has been fully kitted out for Mountain rescue thanks to Jansvans and Polaris. 

Misty Isle Youth Forum on the Isle of Skye identified bullying as a priority issue on which they wanted to campaign.

After finding out that Highland Council's "Positive Relationships & Bullying Prevention Policy" was due for evaluation in November 2017, forum members agreed that the most important issue for their campaign was: "To ensure that every young person of school age in Highland has the opportunity to contribute to the evaluation and the development of a new policy, led by young people for young people."

Volunteers are needed to help renovate Portree Community Centre.

Adverse weather conditions earlier this year caused damage to the hall, say the volunteers who run the centre.

The team say they are looking for people to join the committee as well as more volunteers to help out.  "This is a very rewarding and hands-on opportunity and we would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in helping out however you can!" they state.

For more information, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A leading Highland MSP has again urged the Scottish Government to upgrade the "sub-standard" A82 around the Fort William area.

Today (22 March) in the Scottish Parliament chamber, Kate Forbes MSP highlighted the need for improvement to the west coast trunk road as MSPs discussed Scotland's major infrastructure projects.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch also welcomed Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown's announcement that the A9 dualling plans from Perth to Inverness are on track.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "It was good to get an update from the Scottish Government on the A9 dualling programme.

New plans for the Armadale Castle, Garden and Museum of the Isle's future development are revealed today (Thursday 22 March).

Starting mid-April, a newly appointed Garden Project Manager will help develop new initiatives in the Historic Environment Scotland Designated Landscape.  Details will be revealed on the Armadale Castle website and Facebook soon.

The team has also been working on new plans for the museum. Consultants RAA, the team behind projects such as the revamp of the National Museum of Scotland, have been working with museum staff to review the offer and develop proposals for future development. Local residents, volunteers and partner organisations have all been involved in contributing ideas.  Building on these contributions, new plans will be drafted over the coming season to take the museum and visitor experience to the next level.

A new café-bar at Armadale combined a local ceilidh band with an enjoyable eating and drinking experience.

Gasta at Armadale opened on Friday 16 March with a lively crowd testing out the new dance floor.

From Monday 26 March, the café-bar will offer three distinct types of eating and drinking experience. 

During the daytime, seven days a week, the team will bring the Deli Gasta menu to Armadale, with delicious coffee, cakes and light lunches including family-friendly options. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, new chef Clément Torosani (formerly of the Waterside fish restaurant in Kyle) will be preparing delicious evening meals using local specialities, and later on in the evening the bar will get going with live traditional music.

Kate Forbes MSP has welcomed the decision by the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity to write to the Royal Bank of Scotland urging them to give fair mortgage offers to crofters.

Currently, those in receipt of the Croft House Grant have been unable to secure an RBS mortgage because the bank fears in the event of insolvency that the Scottish Government's rights to recover monies under the scheme would rank ahead of the financial institution's right to recover the home loan.

The saga came to light after crofters on the Isle of Skye raised the matter with constituency MSP Kate Forbes.

Ms Forbes wrote to the Cabinet Secretary raising these concerns, particularly in light of the positive response in the Highlands and Islands to the Croft House Grant Scheme. Fergus Ewing MSP wrote back to the Highland MSP pledging his support and promising to write to RBS.

In his response and letter to RBS, Fergus Ewing MSP noted that "a misperception" had been created because the Government's rights are held against persons, whereas the bank's are held against the property. Mr Ewing added that he hoped his letter "offers the necessary assurance" to RBS.

A leading Highland MSP will tomorrow (22 March) call for greater support for families with Down's Syndrome.

Kate Forbes MSP is set to participate in a Scottish Parliament debate marking Down's Syndrome Awareness week, which runs from 19 to 25 March.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch believes there is "much work" to be done on the issue.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "Down's Syndrome has been part of my life since I have a family member with it.

A Skye building was commended in the Scottish Civic Trust My Place Awards.

An Crùbh, designed by WT Architecture, received recognition yesterday (Tuesday 20 March).

The Scottish Civic Trust My Place Awards were established in 2010 by the Scottish Civic Trust and aim to identify buildings or projects that have had a positive impact in a local neighbourhood.

Pictured above is architect, Tamsin Cunninghame, receiving the commendation for An Crùbh.

 

A Skye building is in the running for an award.

An Crùbh, based in south Skye, has been listed as one of 25 potentially award-winning buildings.  

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has unveiled the list for their 2018 awards.

Stewart Henderson, president of the RIAS, commented: “When shortlisting this year's entries for awards the panel were struck by the continuing high standard of submissions. The quality of architecture being produced the length and breadth of the country is hugely impressive. Practices, large and small, continue to demonstrate the strength and purpose of the profession in Scotland.”

This year’s panel includes RIAS president, Stewart Henderson, Joanna van Heyningen OBE RIBA, van Heyningen and Haward Architects; Stuart McKill, senior executive and managing director, Saint-Gobain; Jon Stevenson, director of Wood for Good and Rachel Tennant Hon FRIAS, Landscape Institute Scotland.

In alphabetical order the shortlisted entries are:

The second distillery on Skye opened its visitor centre yesterday (Monday 19 March.)

Torabhaig Distillery, located at Teangue, has been producing Single Malt Whisky since January 2017.  

The new centre has a courtyard, café and shop - collectively forming the starting point for tours around the distillery.  

Ian Blackford MP took to Facebook to congratulate the team behind the distillery, saying: "Torabhaig is only the second distillery on Skye and I am always pleased to welcome new facilities and attractions which will give people even more reason to visit our beautiful island and boost the local economy."

 
 

 

Kyle Community Council area locals had the chance to cast their votes on Saturday 17 March 2018 at the first ever ‘Kyle Let’s Decide’ participatory budgeting event held in the Lighthouse Centre, and as a result a wide range of community projects are now set to benefit.
Around 60 people took part in deciding which projects should be supported from the £10,000 funding pot.  £4,000 was made available by the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Councillors from their Ward Discretionary Budget and this was boosted by £6,000 from the Scottish Government Community Choices fund.

Road policing officers in the Highlands will be focusing their efforts on speeding around schools with a dedicated operation either side of the Easter holidays.

Road safety is a priority locally for Police Scotland and concerns are regularly raised by communities about driver behaviour near schools.

Officers will be carrying out enforcement activity around schools aiming at deterring speeding and taking action against anyone found to be breaking the speed limit.

The operation will run from Monday 26 March until Wednesday 28 March - and then again between Monday 16 April and Friday 20 April.


Suggestions from Scottish Tory MPs, that Scotland's fishermen should move on and focus on 2020 following the Brexit transition agreement between the UK and the EU, have been described as "unforgiveable" by a leading Highland MSP.

Kate Forbes MSP, whose Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency means she represents fishermen on both the west and east coasts of Scotland, told the Scottish Parliament that the Tories had betrayed Scotland's fishermen after previously pledging to safeguard their interests in Brexit negotiations. 

Ms Forbes made the comments as she raised an urgent question in the Holyrood chamber, and her sentiments were echoed by the response from Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.

All homes in Scotland are set to have a minimum number of smoke alarms after a 30-year-old law is amended.

Currently, the standards are applied to new-build and private rented houses.  However, chances to the Housing (Scotland) Act are being made and will apply to all homes in Scotland.

The law will require private homes to have at least one smoke alarm installed in the most-frequently used room, at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings, at least one heat alarm in every kitchen and a carbon monoxide detector.

In addition, there will be a 10-year age limit for alarms and all alarms will have to be ceiling-mounted, and should be interlinked.

Police Scotland is encouraging people to report any concerns about finding remains of birds of prey following the non-suspicious death of a golden eagle in the Western Isles.
The carcass of the bird was discovered on Barra on the afternoon of Monday, March 12th, by members of the public. Following a post-mortem, it has been established that there are no suspicious circumstances.
Wildlife crime officer Constable Daniel Sutherland said: "It has been established that this bird succumbed to injuries which are consistent with being inflicted by another eagle.

The MSP spearheading a campaign to ban plastic straws has called on Scotland’s music festivals to reduce single-use plastics at their events.

Kate Forbes MSP’s intervention follows HebCelt’s announcement last week that plastic products will no longer be used on site. As well as encourage revellers to use re-usable water bottles, they will supply free biodegradable paper cups – plastic straws were banned at HebCelt four years ago.  

Ms Forbes, who is also a member of Holyrood’s Environment Committee, has written to the organisers of the main festivals such as Belladrum, Electric Fields and TRNSMT, and urged them to reduce plastic waste.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: “As a proud Highlander, it is great to see HebCelt leading the way in banning all single-use plastics at this year’s festival.

“The organisers have led the way previously as they banned plastic straws in 2014.

Six candidates have been selected for the Young Films Foundation residency of Skye.

The residency will be held this year from 19 May to 24 May and will bring together candidates from Glasgow, Isle of Lewis, Skye of Lochalsh and Edinburgh.

Following interviews at the Glasgow Film Festival the 6 successful interviewees were presented during the Industry Drinks Event, hosted by the Young Films Foundation and Channel 4, at the CCA, Glasgow on 26 February.

They are:

A five day course will take place at Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye aimed at supporting unemployed people prepare for work.
The course, organised by The Highland Council’s Employability Team in association with West Highland College and Job Centre Plus, will particularly focus on the job opportunities currently in the pipeline following  the announcement that Marine Harvest are opening a new plant in Kyleakin.
Twenty new posts are expected to be created so the short course, commissioned by the Council’s Employability team and delivered by West Highland College, is specifically aimed at helping unemployed local residents improve their employability chances and pick up new skills to help them find work.

Local police are warning residents of Urquhart Place, Portree to be on the look out for two men in suits.

Police say they have an "ongoing report of two men in suits in Urquhart Place area of Portree saying they are from the bank and need to see bank statements."

Anyone with any information is asked to call 101.

 

Members of the Highland Council’s Care, learning and Housing Committee have agreed to recommend to The Highland Council to create new Gaelic Medium catchment areas for the Portree associated school group as outlined in a public consultation which took place in late 2017.

In line with Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Medium Education, the Council sought the views of local communities in the catchment areas for the primary schools serving Portree High School. The consultation took place under procedures set down in The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

Local police have taken to social media asking for the "Twitter fairies" to help reunite a bike and trailer.

They state: "Wondering if the Twitter fairies can help us reunite the owner with this bike trailer and the pretty good looking bike that was attached to it."

The trailer was found near Broadford and is now in a cell.

Police Scotland is aware of a number of scam calls being made to residents in the Highlands - with fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC.
This scam generally involves a cold call asking for unpaid fees to be settled immediately, warning if this is not done then the victim would be taken to court.
The callers will often ask for the sum to be paid by purchasing iTunes gift cards and then reporting the voucher codes to the person claiming to be from HMRC.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has commissioned ground investigation work at Tarbert (Harris) as part of the infrastructure upgrade project to prepare for the new dual fuel ferry.  The work is required to obtain a more detailed understanding of ground and seabed conditions.
 
A ground investigation contractor, appointed following a competitive tender process, will be on-site at the harbour from Thursday 22nd March.  They will initially build a jack-up barge, which will be used to carry out drilling over water.  There will also be a limited amount of investigation drilling in the marshalling area and adjacent to the terminal building. 

SOS NHS are looking to hear stories about those whose lives have been saved by attending Portree Hospital.

They are especially interested in cases where the longer journey to Broadford could have resulted in a fatality.  

They state: "Sir Lewis Ritchie is back in Portree next week and will meet with Community Councils from the North of Skye, on Thursday 22nd March, as part of his research for an Independent Review he is carrying out for NHS Highland regarding Out of Hours Care for the people of Portree & North Skye.

"NHS HIGHLAND maintain that nothing has changed since 2014 but we in Portree & North Skye know that is not true!

Last week a clean up of the Skinidin layby in the Broadford area took place over three days.

In total the site has produced over 10 Tonne of waste ranging from domestic and garden waste to car parts, gas bottles and a One Direction cushion!

Matt Harrison of I Love Skye said: "We had 30 different volunteers over the three days, and the funny thing was, although the task was fairly thankless (disgusting in places) there was not a single passenger, all the crew turned up, saw the job at hand and got on with it, we laughed and joked, shared stories, came up with plans, worked together. The range of skills,and ideas and assets between the crew was more than enough to get the job done.

Days after International Women’s Day (8 March), Kate Forbes MSP has launched a mentoring scheme to support a young woman in the Highlands achieve her goals and reach her full potential.

Applications are now open to young, aspiring women aged between 18-23 living in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency.

The First Minister’s ‘First Mentor’ scheme, now in its second year, is supported by organisations such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Scottish Sports Association, and the First Minister has called on more women who feel that they have something to offer to launch their own mentorship schemes.

Police are currently attending an accident between the Portree to Sligachan road.

The accident, involving two vehicles, took place today (Tuesday 13 March.)

Road users should proceed with caution, although there are no long delays.

Police are appealing for information following an act of vandalism at Sconser.

The male public toilets at Sconser Ferry Terminal have been vandalised with black spray-paint.

Police say the vandalism took place between 6-8 February.

Anyone with any information is asked to call 101, citing the reference: NP1134/18 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


Kate Forbes MSP has welcomed news that the south end of the Isle of Skye will be among the communities set to benefit from a new £25m Scottish Government project to address mobile "notspots".

Earlier today (12 March) Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, announced the procurement process for the initiative, which will see new mobile phone masts in locations with no existing 4G coverage.

The Scottish 4G Infill Programme will improve mobile connectivity for communities and businesses, with the majority of the programme focusing on sites across the Highlands and Islands.

UPDATE 16.30 12/03/18: No new information has been found on the vessel 'Hanson 2'.

Mallaig and Tobermory RNLI Lifeboats have carried out extensive searches of the area while HM Coastguard Coastal operations Centre Stornoway continued relay MayDay broadcasts to all vessels and carried out communications searches of local harbours and marina's.

Anyone with any information on this vessel is urged to please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

 

HM Coastguard is urgently appealing for information following a MAYDAY call received just before 1am this morning (Monday, March 12th).
The MayDay call was received on the west coast of Scotland, between Ullapool and Tobermory, and was sent from a vessel called ‘Hanson 2’ (spelling unclear).
Mallaig and Tobermory RNLI Lifeboats have now searched the area thoroughly for six hours with nothing found.
A number of relay broadcasts to vessels in the area have also been made with nothing seen or heard; and no other distress alerts have been received.
Anyone with any information on this vessel is urged to please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Following the Kyle Let’s Decide initial bidding process, nine local projects have been short-listed and now have a chance to put their idea to the public vote. There is £10,000 on offer with applications received totalling over £15,000.
 
The participatory budgeting event will take place in the Lighthouse Centre in Kyle of Lochalsh on Saturday 17 March. Registration will be from 12 midday and the event will start at 1pm sharp and run until around 3pm.

Broadford Fuel Station will be closed tomorrow (Tuesday 13 March).

The closure is due to ongoing developments from the SSE in the area.

The closure will take place between the hours of 9am to 5pm.  

A new website has been launched to bring together the work of three of Portree’s businesses under one on-line heading.

http://shopeatartskye.scot is the brainchild of Lisa and Barry Hawthorn who have created The Isle of Skye Baking Company and Skyeworks Gallery situated in the Old Woollen Mill off the main road out of Portree to the north.

The first conference of Scottish Tourism Month 2018 took place today (Friday 9 March) at Sabhal Mor Ostaig.

The SkyeConnect meeting offered an insight into what the organisation aims to do, enabled the audience to hear from the Council and discuss plans for the future.

Speakers, such as Shirley Spear, Councillor John Gordon and representatives from NFU and various local community groups, kept the audience up to date on topics such as marine tourism, local food production and the roll out of free WiFi in Portree.

Eight flats could be built in Portree, if a planning application submitted to the Highland Council proves successful.

The flats, made up of two buildings, will be located at Northview, Struan Road.  

The proposed flats will have a dedicated parking area.

The application can be viewed on the Highland Council website.

The team behind Deli Gasta are to take over management of the former Armadale Castle Stables Restaurant. The new café, Gasta at Armadale Castle, will be based in the restored 19th century stables building at the castle entrance. It opens on 26 March.

The new collaboration is part of a number of new initiatives taking place this year at Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum, which was formerly known as the Clan Donald Centre. Developments include enhanced interpretation around the castle and gardens and a new WWI-related exhibition in the museum, in collaboration with Highland Museums and local schoolchildren. Completing the organisation’s recent rebrand, a new website, www.armadalecastle.com (by Skye-based Pelican Design), will be launched mid-March. 

A 20 year old hillwalker was rescued by Skye Mountain Rescue.

The rescue operation began on Monday night and finished in the early hours of Tuesday.

10 members of the MRT spent "a long night and a couple of hairy drives along a coastal track" in order to rescue the man from the snowy peaks.

The MRT thanked local police and Skye base camp "for ensuring the rescued man is going to get a warm bed rather than spending the night in the snow with the ptarmigan.

 
 

More than 200 new houses will be built by the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association by 2023.

Forty four of the properties are already under construction or being purchased and a further seventy houses and flats will start on site during 2018.  The anticipated cost of the development programme is in the region of £25 million.

Announcing the new programme, the Association's Chief Executive, Lachie MacDonald, said: "This is a massive and unprecedented investment in Skye and Lochalsh and, in addition to being excellent news for jobs in the construction industry, it demonstrates our commitment to meeting the housing needs of individuals and families in the area as quickly as possible. We believe that the best approach to dealing with housing need pressures is to increase the supply of housing and our development programme will certainly achieve that aim.

A conversation between two friends ultimately resulted in over £3,000 going to charity.

Gwen Culbertson and Angela MacGillivray were moved by the plight of refugees in Syria and across Europe and were determined to do something positive.

Having supported a donations collection for charitable organisation, The Highlands Support Refugees, with their children at Bun-sgoil Shlèite primary school last year, the friends decided they wanted to raise local awareness of the cause and support the vital work of the charity.

Tickets were sold for a middle eastern inspired dinner which was provided by Croft No. 8 catering and the event was supported by many local businesses and individuals.

A local charity, providing respite services for adults and children on Skye, is looking to add to its team in order to meet an increase in demand for its services.
 
Carr Gomm, a leading provider of social care, helps people to lead their lives safely and independently, enabling them to do the things they want to do that so many of us take for granted.
 
The team will be holding an open recruitment day at Tigh Lisigarry, Bridge Rd, Portree, IV51 9ER in the SLCVO building on Wednesday 14 March from 11.30am till 1.30pm. Interviews will be available during the drop in session for anyone wishing to fast track their application.  

One of CalMac's longest serving vessels, MV Raasay, is retiring.

Since her launch in 1976, she served the Sconser to Raasay route for 21 years until increased traffic from the island made her unsuitable.  

MV Raasay then became one of the fleet's relief vessels until being pressed back into regular service again in 2003 as the winter ferry serving Kilchoan-Tobermory.  

She was the last of eight 'Island class' ferries launched and is capable of carrying six cars and up to 75 passengers.

Jonathan Davies, CalMac's small vessel technical superintendent said: "The Raasay has been an excellent servant over the years and it always sad to see a vessel with so much history with the company moving on.

Local police are investigating a number of fires over the past week.

They stated that hill land fires in the north Skye area have caused damage to property and woodland.

Anyone with any information is asked to call 101 or share their information anonymously via CrimestoppersUK on 0800555111.  

Crofters who practice muirburning are urged to do so with extra care, say the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF).

SCF say several fires have gone out of control in difficult conditions recently.
 
“Burning off the heather in a carefully controlled manner is an essential part of managing hill grazing,” Yvonne White, vice-chair of the SCF said. “Burning heather allows it to regenerate providing food and access. If the hill was not burnt then the heather would be waist high and woody, and the habitat would be poorer for all: livestock, wild animals and humans.

Police in Ross-shire have confirmed a man's body has been found.

The discovery follows searches for missing person, Silas Humphreys.

The 16 year-old was missing from the Black Isle after being last seen in the Balblair area on the afternoon of Sunday 4 March.

His family are aware that a body was discovered and have requested privacy.  

Plans are progressing for the proposed viewing platform at Lealt Gorge in Staffin.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) have issued an invite to tender for companies interested in winning the contract.

The platform will be part of a new phase of the Skye Ecomuseum development.  

Award-winning engineer, Geoff Freedman, has designed the steel platform and will project manage the construction.  

Above is an artist's impression of the proposed platform.  

Broadford Primary School emerged as triumphant winners of the annual quiz, organised by the Isle of Skye Rotary Club.

Held tonight (Monday 5 March) at Portree High School, the quiz brought together various local schools in a battle to lift the trophy.  Lucy Livingstone, Jack McKinstray, Rowan Purrett and Annie Wilson were the brains behind the team.

With 105 points out of a possible 120, the team of four from Broadford fought off efforts from the other primary schools, including Macdiarmid, Kilmuir, Staffin, Carbost, Portree 1 and 2 and Dunvegan 1 and 2.  

The team from Portree 1 took second place with 94 points.  

Portree 2 achieved third place with a score of 84 points.

The full results for the Sconser 10k are below:
1st Hugh Campbell 35.35
2nd Dean Macleod 38.33
3rd Angus Murray 40.54
4th Scott Templeman 41.50
5th Dave Canning 43.39
6th Gordon Gray 43.44

Hugh Campbell won the Sconser 10k today (Saturday 3 March.) 

Hugh made an excellent time of 35 minutes and 35 seconds.

He was closely followed by Dean MacLeod with a time of 38 minutes and 33 seconds.

The race started at the Moll road and ended at Sconser Golf Club.  

Local photographer, Gordon Willoughby, captured images of Kingsburgh Community Forest ablaze.

Firefighters were called to the area following reports of a grass fire.  

A spokewoman for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service told The Skye Times: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was alerted at 6.48pm on Thursday, March 1 to reports of a grass fire near Balmeanach, Isle of Skye.

“Operations Control mobilised a fire engine to the area where firefighters used beaters to extinguish the fire.
 
“Crews left the scene after ensuring the area was made safe.”

A dog has been missing in the Cuillin area for five nights.

Fourteen year-old Bess, owned by William Edgar, went missing on Sunday 25 February at 1:30pm during a walk  The Lab/Spaniel cross was lost when she took off after deer.

Owner, William Edgar, posted in Facebook group All Things Cuillin, saying: "I checked out Glen Sligachan by mountain bike and under Marsco, where deer have been seen in the past few days."

Mr Edgar continues: "Met a young guy who had walked from Sligachan to the bothes and back just 'for a lookout for the missing dog.'  Can't believe the help and support people are giving.

"Not giving up yet, but this will be her fifth night out so I am being realistic in my expectations."

Two popular Highland beauty spots have been named in the top 15 UK-wide attractions outside of London, based on posts from 300,000 users on photo-sharing app Instagram.

Loch Ness came in at number 10, whilst Eilean Donan Castle on the west coast was fifth on the list – ahead of Arthur's Seat, Snowdon and even the White Cliffs of Dover, much to the delight of constituency MSP Kate Forbes.

Researchers used the Magi Metrics Instagram data export tool, where posts included the hashtags #beautiful, #lovely, #romantic, #stunning or #wonderful, and then ranked the iconic attractions in order from 1 to 15.

Kate Forbes MSP, whose Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency includes both iconic Highland landmarks, welcomed the news.

Sites on Skye are being given support to help them prepare for the tourist season, thanks to a new Scottish Government fund.

Plans for a £6 million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund were announced last autumn – to address notable rises in visitor numbers experienced by some of the most popular destinations in the Scottish countryside.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop has now revealed that two pilot projects on Skye are receiving funds towards the completion of urgent works.

Fairy Pools, Skye: The Highland Council will receive up to £300,000 on behalf of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland to develop visitor facilities, including toilets, at the Glenbrittle pools and waterfalls.
 
Neist Point, Skye: The Highland Council will receive £100,000 towards work to improve road access and parking at the Neist Point lighthouse, a landmark and view point at the western tip of the island.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is instituting a new writing competition.

The competition will be held in memory of Niamh Henderson from Mallaig, who died suddenly last year. Niamh was a first year student at the College, taking the Gaelic and Communication course.

The competition will be open to all college and university students in Scotland, and entrants will be expected to write a Gaelic short story of 1500-2000 words on the theme of mystery.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is to have its first female Principal.

Dr Gillian Rothach has been named as the new Principal and she will begin her post in mid-August 2018.

Dr Rothach lives on Skye with her two children.  She is currently Deputy Director of Studies and Head of Research at the College and it was under her direction that the College achieved success in its submission to the Research Excellence Framework, with many areas of its research being classed as world-leading.

The Highland Council is forecasting a potential financial year end overspend of £2m in its Winter Maintenance Budget.

A combination of the weather conditions experienced and the timing of the most severe episodes is causing the pressure on the winter maintenance budget. Some of the worst weather conditions have fallen over week-ends and the Christmas bank holiday periods which has resulted in more overtime being required. In addition there has been increased usage of salt.

Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee, Cllr Alister Mackinnon agreed to approach the Scottish Government again to make the case for additional funding for Highland.  He said: “The Highlands cover a third of Scotland and we have nearly 7,000km of regional roadways and 1,600km of footpaths, including some of the highest and most exposed routes in the UK. This is simply not recognised in our funding allocations from the Scottish Government. As a Council, we have protected winter maintenance as far as we possibly can over the past two years, however, there have been very challenging conditions this winter for keeping roads and footpaths clear of snow and ice and protecting vital connections and lifeline routes between remote communities.”

The constituency MSP for Skye has welcomed further Scottish Government funding which will help improve tourism infrastructure at some of the island's most iconic attractions.

£100,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will improve car parking facilities at Neist Point, whilst £300,000 will open the next phase of the Fairy Pools development, including the creation of toilet facilities.

Last year Skye MSP Kate Forbes organised and led two well-attended tourism summits with local businesses, community groups and tourism organisations, which looked at tourism-related problems and potential solutions. She also orchestrated a visit from Tourism Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Earlier this week the Scottish Government added £100,000 funding to help create a new car park at the Quirang on the Staffin peninsula, whilst LEADER allocated £200,000 towards an expanded car park at the Fairy Pools.

Just days after announcing the Skye Half Marathon is to be a Scottish championship event organisers are now celebrating their biggest ever entry.

With weeks still to go the island's big running event has just broken the 800 mark.

If your local and you've never been to Eilean Donan Castle then here's your chance...and it's free!

For the entire month of April, they are offering all local residents of Skye, Lochalsh, Lochcarron & the Applecross peninsula free entry to the castle.

Lochcarron Community Development Company is one of eight social enterprises to pilot a new initiative in the Highlands and Islands

The aim of the scheme is to strengthen the capacity, capability and governance of such groups and has been launched by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) who have teamed up with the Bank of Scotland to provide highly qualified and experienced individuals to serve as non-executive directors on social enterprise boards.

The specialists bring skills from a range of backgrounds including commercial, retail and private banking, alongside those of project management, leadership, finance and commercialisation.

Eight social enterprises from Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, Outer Hebrides, Argyll and Bute, Caithness and Sutherland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland are taking part in the six-month pilot.

Members of the winning team

Portree RNLI are £3,000 better off thanks to youngsters at the local high school.

For the team of seven, representing the local lifeboat team, found themselves overall winners of a competition organised through the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative.

Set up in Scotland by the Wood Group it aims to get school children involved in local charities.

At Portree High the competition final involved  pupils putting forward multi-media presentations to argue their cause. Five local charities were represented.

Portree has been targeted by Police and Trading Standards as part of a national campaign to tackle the unlicensed selling of second hand vehicles.

The initiative, named Operation Petra, was carried out between Monday 27 March, 2017 and today, Thursday 30 March, 2017 throughout the Highland area including in Thurso, Wick, Alness, Kirkhill, Inverness and Portree.

Police and Trading Standards Officers visited individuals who have been identified as regular sellers of used vehicles and who may not have the appropriate licenses. As part of these visits, individuals have been reminded of their legal responsibilities.

Over recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of vehicles offered for sale through free ads on the internet and social media. Many sellers do not have license to trade and police and Trading Standards are receiving an increasing number of complaints about abandoned vehicles as well as about unscrupulous dealers.

Davie in action

Portree's Davie Hearn has done it again, gone and lifted another British record.

Since he took up the sport senior citizen Davie has consistently broken records at British, European and World level in the championships staged by the World Drug Free Power Lifting Association.

Now during the organisation's latest British Championships, a qualifier for the forthcoming European and World titles, he has made the record books once more.


Saturday (April 1) will see the start of something new in Sleat.

For after years of planning An Crùbh (The Hub) a community developed café, shop and meeting space will officially open.

The new facility was developed by the community group 'Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative' with the aim of giving locals and visitors alike a place to meet, to shop and socialise.

Business Manager Sharon Campbell said about the project. "Here in Sleat we are lucky to have a very vibrant community. The board from Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative are all volunteers and with feedback from the community, they had the vision, skills and drive to make this fantastic project - An Crùbh happen. We now have an amazing facility on our doorstep which will benefit future generations and attract visitors from near & far. It has created good permanent job opportunities and we have a great team in place to give everyone who visits An Crùbh the warmest of welcomes."

Opera takes on a space age quality at Portree's Aros centre this week-end.

For on Sunday 2 April, Puccini's Madama Butterfly will be showing live via satellite straight from the Royal Opera House. This is the first time we have had a show from the Royal Opera House.

Already Aros have said that if the event proves a success they hope to start showing more live cinema events including some from the National Theatre.

Work on research about the impact on transport and access to healthcare services on the Isle of Skye is to start next week as part of NHS Highland’s Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross redesign process.

Dr Richard Mounce and Dr Steve Wright, both research fellows at the Centre for Transport Research at the University of Aberdeen, will be travelling to Skye to begin their research on Monday 3rd April 2017.

This work is a key requirement of the redesign process. In particular, it will look at the impact (positive or negative) of any changes to healthcare services the board provides in the area.

Young musicians at the competition

Clan Donald Skye's annual Clarsach Competition once again proved to be a showcase for local young musicians.

Held at Armadale's Stables Cafe the prizes were won by the following:

Police were called to a two vehicle collision which occurred in Portree's Viewfield Road yesterday (Mar 29) shortly before 3.30pm.

The incident involved a VW Polo and Toyota Yaris with only minor injuries reported.

Spirit of Skye Festival organisers have scored a major coup by enticing Masterchef 2016 winner Gary Maclean to join them.

The Glasgow born 45 years old has agreed to be part of the big event which takes place at Portree's Aros centre on June 16-17.

Russell Smith

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has expressed deep disappointment at the Scottish Government decision to not introduce the planned Areas of Natural Constraint support scheme, instead opting to reduce support payments to the fragile areas.

“The government have reneged on their promise,” said Russell Smith, chair of the SCF, “which was made in the lead up to this phase of the Common Agriculture Policy. For years government and stakeholders have been working on the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) support scheme, which was to replace the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS).”

Police on Skye were involved in a search to locate a misssing man yesterday (March 28)

Officers were said to have been supported by police dogs as they tried to locate a man in his 20s who was reported missing at 1:15pm. However, Police Scotland have confirmed that he was eventually traced safe and well around 2:40pm and then taken to hospital for medical checks.

Another underground home is planned for Skye.

Just a week after an application for a similar new house was submitted for Glendale, Highland Council are being asked to consider another, this time at Greshornish, Edinbane.

Submitted by Staffin based Jock Gordon Design & Planning on behalf of Mr Chris Watkiss, the single storey underground house with a top soil and grass roof would be located in land 100m south of Redwood House if given the go ahead.

Other planning applications submitted are as follows:

Five of Skye's most popular tourist attractions now have their own dedicated shuttle service.

Portree based Go Skye will be launching the new initiative from mid-April connecting the island's 'capital' with the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle, the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Glen at Uig.

Already the new service has got the backing from SkyeContact - the recently launched organisation dedicated to actively encouraging the growth and development of tourism and tourism businesses in Skye.

Chris in action

The chased could become the chaser if Winter Series champ Chris James takes part in the latest event run by Skye and Lochalsh Running Club.

All season Chris has dominated local events but on Saturday (April 1) the Kingsburgh Forest Handicap will see competitors setting off according to their average pace in the winter series. That means he will be last man away.

The SkyeConnect launch proved a big success but of all the topics covered on the day it was the decision not to support a local Tourist Tax that proved the most controversial.

And, since the conclusion of  the day to herald the arrival of an organisation dedicated to encouraging the growth and development of tourism and tourism businesses in Skye the debate has rumbled on.

Within hours of coverage by The Skye Times there were several comments made via social media.
Ben Wear said: "I thought part of the justification for a tourism tax was to enable improved parking, toilets and such facilities?"
While Elgar Finlay commented: "Exactly!! The aim is for tourism (and residents) to benefit in a sustainable manor...Folk locally I think would prefer to see money from the visitors and those profiting from them being reinvested in the Islands infrastructure making life better for all.

"At least we now have a locally based organisation who can be mandated to determine and take the issues forward... (I hope). If it is simply just a front for marketing the Island it may not deliver the infrastructure needed to cope."

Now another local Skye resident with years of experience in the tourism related field, Ian McKay, has come up with an alternative view.

Land around the Storr


Highland Council have confirmed receipt of an ambitious community led plan to take over ownership of part of Storr woodland on Skye.

Staffin Community Trust has submitted an asset transfer request made under Part 5 of the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015, which relates to less than one hectare of the site for which the proposed purchase price is £1000.

The Trust is seeking to develop a visitor arrival zone including car parking, toilets and the provision of information. In addition to transfer of ownership, the Trust wants a contribution of £400,000 from the Council towards the proposals. The remainder of the 82 hectare site would continue in the ownership of Highland Council.

Waternish Hall are looking to make some sporty additions but first they want to gauge local support.

So they have issued an online survey to ensure that if purchased a new table tennis table and indoor bowls equipment would be a worthwhile.

Donald (second left) with Rabbie's staff


Tour bus staff have once again shown that they are prepared to do their bit to protect the beauty spots that help make their business so successful.

Last year employees at Rabbie's Trail Burners carried out path repair and improvement work in Skye's popular Quiraing tourist hot spot.

Now once again, the drivers and back office staff have returned and this time, despite driving rain, high winds and hail showers, carried out two days working on badly-needed repairs to the same route, which attracts thousands of people each year.

Seven hardy Rabbie’s staff dug out a damaged and uneven section of path, created a stone-lined ramp, installed a culvert pipe and landscaped the area. The workers faced frequent rain and hail showers but battled on to complete the job.


Stand up comedian Jeremy Hardy celebrates his fourth decade in the business with a summer tour including a visit to Skye.

In 2014, the tenth series of Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation was broadcast on Radio 4. He is also well known for his appearances on The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Indeed, Alan Bennett recently said he likes him “but he’s only on the radio”.

 

The Food Standards Agency have confirmed the recall of serveral products sold through major supermarket chains.

Cleone Foods is recalling two of its patty products because they do not contain the wording ‘use by’ with the date code information indicating the date by which the products can be safely consumed on the packaging.

A local beach clean event on Skye will be one of a host of events tomorrow (March 25) as Highland Council mark WWF's Earth Hour

Between 11am - 1.30pm at Caroy Beach, Northwest Skye,Council Ranger Ellie MacLennan will supervise the clean up. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 01471 820527 for further details.

Now in its tenth year, the Council will join thousands of people across Scotland and millions from around the world in switching off their lights for an hour on Saturday 25 March at 8.30pm.

Kyle lifeboat in action

Reports of screaming and shouting sparked off a rescue drama at Kyle today (March 24)

Shortly after 1pm the UK Coastguard requested that Kyle lifeboat respond to two separate reports of screaming and shouting coming from the bottom of the viewpoint a quarter of a mile east of Kyle.

The lifeboat launched 10 minutes later, and arrived on scene to find a boat drifting around half a mile from the shore. The crew went alongside to ask if they had heard anything, and found out that they were divers who were having trouble starting their boat's engine.

The Scottish Wildfire Forum (SWF) is raising awareness about the increased risk of wildfire across most parts of Scotland over the next few days - as weather forecasters predict very dry conditions.

Vice chair of the Scottish Wildfire Forum, Michael Bruce, monitors the European Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). which provides vital information which can be used to inform the public about the risk of wildfire.

He said: “At the start of spring there is often a lot of dead vegetation leftover from last year.

“This fuel can dry out quickly when there is overnight frost, followed by sunny days with higher temperatures and lower humidity levels.

“We have a high pressure weather system developing across Scotland creating these conditions at the moment.”

 

North Skye Broadband


 North Skye Broadband (NSB), established to provide benefit to communities on the Isle of Skye by building and operating ultra-fast broadband delivery networks, has issued a call to action.

NSB believes that provision of ultra-fast broadband is one of the most important economic benefits for the island since the opening of the Skye Bridge more than 20 years ago.

“We are deeply concerned about the Digital Clearances – the extent to which the lack of access to adequate and affordable broadband contributes to the population decline of fragile rural communities in Skye.” says Geoff Semler, NSB Chair.

“Very large telecoms and media companies that have sufficient financial and other resources to just set up better broadband where it doesn’t presently exist have no intention whatsoever to do so in our communities – as far as they are concerned, they know that they won’t make any profit if they do.

 

Rescue services combined during search

 The body of a man has been recovered from the water near Kilt Rock.

Police officers were called by a member of the public regarding concerns for the man.  Along with the Coastguard, efforts were made to trace him around 11am on Thursday 23 March.

Police say a 41 year old male is being reported for drink driving after being stopped by officers in Portree last night. (Mar 22)

The man was stopped while police were addressing road safety.

Anyone trying to telephone the Council Office, Tigh na Sgire in Portree today (Thursday 23 March) will have been disappointed.

A break in the main fibre core has resulted in telephone disruption for the office.  

BT is due to attend in an attempt to fix the break.  

Skye-based artist, Julie Brook, will be inviting visitors to accompany her on her African adventures during a talk given at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture in Edinburgh.

Julie, who has worked in the deserts of Libya and Namibia, will also be showcasing her work in the Hebrides.  

She will also reveal details about a planned new project she is proposing to begin in Japan.  

Massacre cave

Skye's connection to an infamous clan massacre way back in the 16th century has again come to the fore.

For more than 50 human bones found at the appropriately named Massacre Cave on Eigg have been identified as being part of the atrocities back in 1577.

It was then that a revenge attack by the MacLeod's of Dunvegan is said to have ended in the killing of virtually the entire Macdonald population on the island.

Last October tourists discovered 53 bones and informed police, who in turn contacted Historic Environment Scotland (HES). Archaeologists have now dated the bones to the time of the infamous massacre of hundreds of islanders.

Ester receiving her award from the Lord Lieutenant

Portree High School's Ester Strachan's love of life and determination to succeed against the odds has been rewarded.
For the youngster from Ashaig, Breakish has been chosen as this year's Lord Lieutenant's Special Award winner.

At the Lord Lieutenant’s Youth Award Presentations, held in the Strathpeffer Pavilion, Ester was among over 70 young people nominated in various categories, many drawn from Skye as well aso Plockton, Gairloch and Ullapool.

The nominations are for young people aged between 11 and 18 and come from all over my Lieutanancy area of Ross, Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh.  Most of those nominated were able to attend the presentations together with 2 guests and those who nominated them.

However, announcing the special award winner, Lord Lieutenant for Ross, Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh, Mrs Janet Bowen, said: "I had the privilege of reading every nomination submitted, each of which is an individual story of hard work, dedication, determination and joy in achieving great results. 

 

Completing training and final handover details means that the new post office at the An Crùbh community hub looks likely to be delayed.

Earlier reports suggested the new service would operate from March 24 but now, via social media, the Duisdale Beag facility have confirmed it will be Thursday 13 April before the postal services will be operational there.

Meanwhile work is proceeding apace to try and ensure An Crùbh's shop and cafe are ready in time for the planned Saturday 1 April opening.

Youngsters try out the new fun zone


Port staff at Calmac’s office in Armadale have drawn on their own imaginations to create a very special and unique fun zone for children.

Generous donations of toys from staff and friends have created a colourful area within the port office, which is there to be enjoyed by youngsters, whether they’re dropping in from the community or travelling on the ferry.

The project is the brainchild of the staff at the port and, with support and input from manager Catherine Young, they have sourced everything from furniture to toys, crayons to colourful decorations – port assistants Gary Mahon and Sam Graham have been particularly involved in the venture. And it is all laid out on an alphabet and counting jigsaw mat.

The new furniture is handmade by Mallaig port assistant Colin Fisher and includes a table and benches decorated with fabulous sea creatures, hand painted by Gary Mahon. The special, super-dooper, small people-sized benches and table are a riot of all manner of sealife from the friendly pink octopus creeping across the table, to brightly drifting jellyfish and a selection of rockpool and beach favourites like sea urchins and starfish across the two benches.

Skye & Lochalsh orchestra

Skye’s musical talent will be the focus of events next week in Sleat.

On Thursday, 30 March, the traditional music course students from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig present a night of Gaelic song, music and piping with guest pipers, singers and musicians Decker Forrest, Christine Primrose, Murdo Cameron, Ingrid Henderson and Angus MacKenzie. The event kicks off at 8pm.

Popular Skye folk noir band, The Dead Man’s Waltz, return this year to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They will give a concert in An Talla Mòr on Friday, 31 March at 8pm as part of their tour taking in Stornoway, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

Set for biggest race ever


Scottish Athletics have confirmed that Skye's half marathon  will this year host the North District championship bringing some of the region's top runners to the race.

Already set for its biggest entry numbers ever, so far over 750 have put their names forward, the Skye event has now grown significantly in its standing within the sporting community following with the latest news.

The awarding of championship status is a first for Skye's half marathon and race director Mark Crowe said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Skye Half Marathon has been awarded the North District Half Marathon championship for 2017.

MSP backing big switch off


Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, is urging everyone to make WWF’s Earth Hour matter this year and show support for a strong Climate Change Plan for Scotland.

She said: "This year’s switch off event takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday 25 March.

"Around the world homes, workplaces and iconic landmarks will be going dark for an hour in the world’s biggest demonstration of support for action on climate change.

Artist's impression of the new vessel

 

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) will host a series of public meetings to update communities on the design and build of the new dual fuel vessel for the Skye Triangle route and to discuss harbour infrastructure at Uig, Tarbert (Harris) and Lochmaddy.

Communities are invited to attend their local meeting where representatives from CMAL, Calmac Ferries Limited, Transport Scotland and the relevant local authority will attend the meetings. On Skye this will be at the Uig Community Centre, on Monday 3rd April, beginning at 7pm.

CMAL, which owns ferries, ports and harbours across the west coast of Scotland, will present the latest progress report on construction of the new 102 metre dual fuel vessel, which is one of two currently being built and is ear marked to serve the Skye Triangle route.  It will be capable of running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine gas oil (MGO), helping to reduce carbon emissions.  The vessel will carry up to 1,000 passengers and provide 646 metre vehicle lane capacity, which is approximately 25% increased carrying of a mix of cars, light vehicles, coaches and heavy goods vehicles.

Armadale Castle

A new management new team will oversee the running and re-branding to Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles in time for the start of the 2017 season.

The changes revolving around the leadership of Clan Donald Lands Trust follow the recent resignation of the CEO, Jan Walwork Clarke to pursue other interests, so reported   James Macdonald Chairman of the Executive Committee of CDLT.

On behalf of the Trustees, he thanked Jan Clarke for her contribution over the last 2 years.  He went on to express his confidence in the outlook for the 2017 season, having passed operational control to the newly formed Management Committee, made up of CDLT’s existing skilled & experienced staff. 

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) says crofting has a future despite the uncertainties of the coming years, but warns that crofters will need to stand together to ensure that future.

“Following an extremely thought-provoking SCF annual gathering in Applecross, on the place of crofting in Europe,” said Russell Smith, chair of the SCF, “and given the result of the Crofting Commission elections, it is clear that crofting has a future – but it is something we will have to fight for.

“Speakers at our gathering presented plenty of evidence to show that a sustainable future for rural communities, food production and the environment depends on small-scale holdings with a range of activities and an holistic approach to rural development. Brexit doesn’t seem to have anything positive to offer Scotland but a fresh look at a replacement for the Common Agriculture Policy will be a vital opportunity to find a policy that works for crofting.”

Folk in Staffin are being asked to take a new home to their hearts..and give it a name.

Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) is constructing a three-bedroom affordable home in Flodigarry and is seeking ideas from the local community for a suitable name.

The Staffin Community Trust and Flodigarry Township Trust’s preference would be for a Gaelic name, which would have some meaning to the locality in which the house lies. It is close to the Dun Flodigarry Hostel, the “Horse Park” and Flodigarry Hotel.


While house building continues to dominate local planning applications here is something unusual, but is it the very first for Skye?

Waternish based Skyedesigns are the agent for this eco-friendly earth sheltered house which is planned for Glendale.

The applicants are Mr and Mrrs Neil Maclean and if given the go ahead the new house will be built on land - or should that be built under land - some 60 metres south west of Fon Tobar at Lower Milovaig.

Other applications but forward this week are as follows:

Orla

Portree High School's Orla MacLeod and Ruaridh Stewart from Plockton High have been elected as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for the Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch constituency.


The SYP is made up of around 150 young people aged from 14−25 across Scotland.[1] Representatives are known as Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs). Every constituency area can elect a MSYP to represent the views and opinions of young people.

Ruaridh (2nd left)

In addition some MSYPs also attend representing Voluntary Organisations. The SYP meets three times a year.

A dance teacher from down under could turn out to be a big hit on Skye.

For the founder and director of the Wagana Aboriginal Dancers, Jo Clancy is coming to Portree after teaming up with Skyedace. 
Jo is a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW in Australia and has been teaching and performing for over 25 years.

She said: "Aboriginal dance is derived and inspired by everything around us. The earth, the sky, the animals and birds, stories passed down from generation to generation for tens of thousands of years. The movement that comes when I dance feels like an imprint. It’s like following a map that I unconsciously know.

With deadline day approaching, the Crofting Commission is reminding crofters that they are legally obliged to complete and return the Crofting Census, which was issued at the end of last year. Completed Crofting Census forms need to be returned by the 31 March 2017.

The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 requires crofters to complete the Crofting Census each year and if they fail to provide the information without reasonable cause, by the date shown or knowingly provide false information they will be guilty of an offence under this Act. 

A debate about the future of rural policy and support for Scottish agriculture and forestry needs to commence regardless of constitutional uncertainty, according to Scottish Land & Estates.

At the heart of this debate will be the structure of support for farms and rural businesses. Scottish Land & Estates supports a long-term strategy of greater emphasis on farming and land management delivering public goods.

The organisation, which represents landowners and rural businesses across Scotland, has today published its new policy paper: A new direction for Scottish land management. The document is the starting point for research being carried out by Scottish Land & Estates over the forthcoming year on the future of rural policy in Scotland.

Scott Armstrong, regional partnerships director for visitscotland 

The idea of a "bedroom tax" or similar levy on tourists and visitors to Skye as a way of getting finance for improving facilities was firmly rejected by Marc Crothall, the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, speaking at the inaugural meeting of skyeconnect, the local destination organisation, on Saturday (March 18th),

At the meeting in the Aros Centre, Portree, which was sponsored by NFU Mutual, a number of concerns were raised by audience members - including the decline in island bus services and how that affected both visitors and local people trying to work in the tourist industry; the state of the Armadale-Mallaig ferry service; the need for affordable housing both for local people and as accommodation for people coming to the Island to find work; the problems caused by the lack of broadband connections and the failure to roll-out superfast to so much of the area; and the possible options for getting additional money spent on improving the conditions for everyone.

The challenges of dealing with soaring visitor numbers, traffic problems, parking needs and the shortage of public toilets at beauty spots in Skye were described yesterday (Saturday March 18th) at the first meeting of skyeconnect, the new destination organisation for Skye and the surrounding areas.

Those attending heard how making provision for these visitors - who were being criticised by local people on public health and traffic safety grounds - was not part of the remit of the regional administrations or public sector bodies.

And Hugh Ross, of the Staffin Community Trust, pictured above, and Nick Duffill of the Minginish Community Hall Association, explained how their organisations - although set up for different purposes originally - were now shouldering the responsibility of trying to provide better facilities. 

An elderly man missing from Portree has been found safe and well.

Police initially asked for help from the public after failing to find 77 years old Albert Pirie. However, the Highlands and Islands Police Division have now confirmed that he has been found safe and well. No further details are available at this time.

 

 

 

Skyeconnect, the new designation management organisation for the tourism and visitor industry in Skye and Lochalsh, was formally launched at a major event in the Aros centre in Portree today (Saturday March 18th)

Shirley Spear, who chairs skyeconnect, announced the official start of the new organisation and the fact that support has been won from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to appoint a project officer.

The auditorium at Aros was packed for the launch with people from tourism-related businesses in Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh.

SMO students part of ther 2017 line up

 

A stellar line-up of award-winning artists is set to descend on stages in the south of Skye over the next few months as SEALL (Skye Events for All) rolls out its brand new 2017 programme.
 
Last year, the Sleat-based community-led live arts promoters celebrated 25 years of bringing some of the country’s leading performing artists to the south of Skye. It also added to its list of awards, Venue of the Year for SEALL at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2015.
 
Working from offices and venues at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, SEALL delivers over 80 live events a year, which include the annual two-month-long summer Fèis an Eilein (The Skye Festival) in July and August and the Skye Swing Jazz Festival at the end of October.
 
Scottish traditional music provides the basis for SEALL’s work but the annual programme also brings the best known names in music to the south of Skye featuring jazz, opera, world folk, new music and dance.

For the second time in a week, CalMac has stepped forward to pick up a top award recognising its support to Scotland’s west coast tourism.

At a ceremony in Edinburgh, the UK’s largest ferry network operator was named winner in the Working Together for Tourism category at VisitScotland’s annual Thistle Awards.

This week-end (Saturday 18 March) sees the launch of SkyeConnect, the island's Destination Management Organisation.

From 11am until 2.30pm there is an open invitation to the Aros Centre, Portree, where the event takes place as part of Scottish Tourism Week 2017.

 

Lord and Lady Macdonald celebrate success

 

Sleat's Kinloch Lodge is celebrating after being voted Most Hospitable Hotel at the 2017 Scottish Thistle Awards, recognised as Scotland’s tourism industry’s Oscars.

The hotel’s founders, Lord & Lady Macdonald, accepted the honour on behalf of the Kinloch team at a celebratory awards ceremony and dinner, last night (16th) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. TV presenter and Deacon Blue drummer, Dougie Vipond, and presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch hosted the glittering event.

Lady Claire Macdonald, said: “It was so lovely to represent the Kinloch team at the wonderful awards ceremony. Although we are still very much involved with Kinloch, Godfrey and I handed over the day to day running of the hotel and restaurant to our daughter Isabella and chef director Marcello Tully nearly 10 yeas ago and it has been wonderful to watch them take Kinloch forward and to continue to go from strength to strength, we are very proud of everyone.”

BBC ALBA – WEEKLY PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS

Week: 12
Date: Saturday 18 March – Friday 24 March 2017


Cuirm@Celtic: Anna Latharna agus Caraidean
Saturday 18 March
BBC ALBA, 9.00 – 10.00pm

A concert special presented by Linda MacLeod marking ten years since the publication of the magisterial book, Songs of Gaelic Scotland, by singer, author and academic, Anne Lorne Gillies. Cuirm@Celtic: Anna Latharna agus Caraidean showcases songs from each themed chapter from the book. The songs cover centuries of music from Scotland's most significant Gaelic composers and bards. Appearing onstage with Anne at St Luke's in Glasgow is a group of acclaimed singers and musicians including Arthur Cormack, Kathleen MacInnes, Angus MacLeod, Rachel Fraser and Alan Kitchen.


Vets: Gach Creutair Beò (Ep 5/12)
Monday 20 March
BBC ALBA, 8.30 – 9.00pm

Martin King of DNA Media congratulating CalMac’s marketing manager Peter Griffiths at the London ceremony

 

Caledonian MacBrayne, together with The Lane Agency, has won the digital marketing campaign of the year category at The Travel Marketing Awards.

The company and agency were recognised at the UK-wide event in London for The Two Eejits series of short films – CalMac’s first campaign aimed specifically at the millennials sector.

Edinburgh-based The Lane Agency developed the fun and innovative film series for CalMac to appeal to a younger audience, showing that travel to the islands is inexpensive and easy to plan. Called ‘The Two Eejits’, it also sought to face head-on perceived issues of bad weather and the lack of anything to do, with plenty ideas for great adventures regardless of rain, hail, sleet, snow or anything else the notoriously fickle west coast weather gods can dredge up.

SEALL director Duncan MacInnes (front right) and administrator Marie Lewis with artists from Catherine Wheels Theatre who performed at Sleat Primary School earlier this month.

 

A generous funding boost will secure the future delivery of quality live performing arts on the Isle of Skye over the next year.

Skye Events for All (SEALL), the performing arts promoting company based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in south Skye, has been awarded £55,000 from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

The money will go towards developing the administration necessary to take the organisation forward and improving the programme by increasing the quality and quantity of events.

Director, Duncan MacInnes, said: “With this funding from Creative Scotland, we will be able to create the high level of administration our programme needs.  We have relied on a lot of volunteer support for years and, because of this, often miss out on artistic and fundraising opportunities.

ABIR Architects have released this latest artist's impression of just what the new Isle of Raasay Distillery will look like when it opens in the summer

Parking problems at the Storr

 

North Skye's local community has formally submitted a bid to purchase land close to the iconic visitor hot spot of the Old Man of Storr.

The Staffin Community Trust (SCT) has lodged an Asset Transfer Request (ATR) to The Highland Council for a section of roadside ground near the popular island landmark so it can construct a new car park, public toilets and interpretation.

It comes after several years of talks between SCT and the council, a major community consultation and the conclusion of a site options appraisal/business plan by a consultant team.

The local community has significant concerns about parking congestion and road safety at the busy site, which is off the A855 Portree-Staffin road, and the lack of toilets, which has sparked public health complaints. These concerns have been exacerbated because of the increasing numbers of visitors to the Storr with an estimated 150,000 people in 2016, which is an increase of 60,000 people from 2014’s total.

Skye's oldest inn received recognition when it came joint second place in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

Based in Waternish, The Stein Inn is run by Angus and Teresa McGhie and has rooms dating from 1790.  Located on the edge of Loch Bay, the Inn boasts tranquil views, an impressive collection of over 130 whiskies and a warm welcome!

The Highland Council is informing groups and individuals that from Saturday 1 April 2017 charges for school lets will increase by 10% in Highland schools.

The Council’s budget gap for 2017/18 has been identified at £20.344m and this price increase is anticipated to generate additional income of £29,437 which will help the Council to deliver a balanced budget in 2017/18.

Wheel Nuts annual show


The popular annual Skye Wheel Nuts show faces its own race against time if  it is to survive.

For founder and chief organiser of the event where vintage cars, bikes and trikes are the stars, Ricco Perri, has suddenly announced that he will be standing down from his lynchpin role.

Via the Wheel Nuts facebook page Ricco from Edinbane, who has been at the heart of the annual Portree show, which last summer was highlighted in The Skye Times, said: "Due to circustances beyond my control......I find I am no longer able to organise and run further S.W.Nuts shows .


The Food Standards Agency have issued warnings after a series of food product recalls.

Tesco is recalling a batch of its Oriental Kitchen Chicken Chow Mein product because it was incorrectly packed with Tesco Chicken Curry and therefore contains egg, milk, mustard and sesame, which are not mentioned on the label.

This means the product is a possible health risk for anyone with an allergy or intolerance to egg and/or milk or milk constituents, and/or an allergy to mustard or sesame.

Caledonian MacBrayne has been shortlisted for two major awards recognising its role in supporting rural economies across Scotland’s west coast.

The nominations both underline contributions made as a business rooted in the communities served by the UK’s largest ferry network and the difference made to those who live within those areas.

The company’s network stretches from Campbeltown and the Isle of Arran in the south through to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the north – a distance of some 200 miles – and includes 24 islands and two mainland-to-mainland routes.

With 1,400 staff, many from across the Highlands and islands, employment is a key element in the contributions made to some of Scotland’s most fragile economies, but the role of the company in supporting business and commerce, not least a growing and vibrant tourism sector, is significant and on-going.


Planning applications submitted to the Highland Council for Skye this week are as follows.

Young people on the Gaelic residental


Thirty three young people came together for a four day residential to improve and widen their Gaelic speaking and writing skills.

The Highland Council’s Gaelic Team, in partnership with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and with financial support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig organised the Gaelic Annual Residential ‘Seachdain nan Deugairean’ event for young people which took place last week at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – the Gaelic College in Sleat.

The course involved pupils drawn from from Portree, Plockton and Mallaig High Schools  and involved both Gaelic fluent speakers and Gaelic learner pupils.

Counc. Margaret Davidson with others at the meeting


Key issues centred on Sleat were at the heart of discussions held at the week-end.

Highland Council leader, Counc. Margaret Davidson, along with local representatives, Councs John Gordon and Hamish Fraser, had an informal session with Sleat Community Council representatives at the Hotel Eilean Iarmain.

A Life with the Beatles

After great success at Edinburgh Fringe and King's Head Theatre, London 2015, solo drama "A life with the Beatles" is coming to Portree's Aros Centre this evening (Mar 14)

2017 is the 50th anniversary of the release of the ground-breaking Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a focal point of Davide Verazzani's ‘A Life with the Beatles’, which follows the story of The Fab Four from the unique perspective of Neil Aspinall, who served the band for 46 years, from driver to CEO of Apple Corps – always by their side, knew everyone and everything.

CuillinFM are anticipating a reduced signal strength as essential work takes place on their Skriag mast.

The community radio say there will be a temporary reduction in power tomorrow (Mar 14) on 102.7FM between the hours of 10am and 3pm and with a 25% power reduction some of the outer areas may not pick them up well for a while.

The 2017 Highland Council election has been officially called today (Monday 13 March) with the Returning Officer seeking nominations from candidates wishing to stand in the local government elections which take place on Thursday 4 May.

A total of 74 Councillors will be appointed to represent the Council in  21 electoral wards, each with three or four elected members.The deadline for nominations is 4.00 pm on Wednesday 29 March

The Returning Officer for the election is Steve Barron, Chief Executive, The Highland Council and in the lead up to the election, a series of briefings for prospective candidates have been held in Inverness; Fort William; Skye; Dingwall; Golspie and Wick which have been well attended.

Voting will be taking place on 4 May in 267 polling stations with the option for people to use a postal vote. If you choose to vote by post then you cannot vote in person at a polling station. 

Rhoda Grant

Just days after SNP MSP Kate Forbes brought Raasay residents and NHS Scotland officials together to discuss healthcare issues on the island her Labour counterpart has again made her views known.

Earlier this year Rhoda Grant visited Raasay to talk with locals about the situation and said she had now received a reply from NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Elaine Mead, to questions raised by residents.

She said: "I am concerned that out-of-hours health care on Raasay is increasingly being handed over to the community, leaving residents, who are not medical experts, making difficult decisions.

"There are a number of confusing and perplexing answers. For instance, the community nurse should deal only with people aged 16 and over due to training and registration, although that is countered by NHS Highland saying that the “nurse always sees” children but may need to refer them for treatment to the GP or hospital.

Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers are celebrating after receiving a £82,000 plus award.

The funding follows a detailed application and ultimately successful application to BBC Children in Need.

Announcing their success on social media they said: "We have been awarded the fantastic amount of £82,672.00 which will help towards the running of the service to provide much needed support to all of our young carer members.

Ian Blackford

Portree will be one of the venues for MP Ian Blackford's series of meeting to discuss Scotland and its post Brexit future.

The Member of Parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said: "I would like to invite you along to a series of meetings which I am holding across the constituency on the future of Scotland Post-Brexit.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is encouraging community bodies and third sector organisations across the region to consider applying to the Aspiring Communities Fund.

The £18.9 million fund is being run as part of the European Social Fund, with the Scottish Government as lead partner. The deadline for the first round of applications is 7 April.

The fund will support community-led projects to develop and deliver services that address local needs.

There is an emphasis on partnership between the public or private sectors and community groups, with a shared interest in exploring new and sustainable ways of working to improve local services.

'I want to learn' was the basic message from Crofting Commission Chief Executive Bill Barron to crofters meeting for the Scottish Crofting Federation annual gathering in Applecross on Saturday March 11th.   

Mr Barron was only recently confirmed as permanent chief executive after three months in the post as an 'acting CEO' and took the opportunity to introduce himself in detail to crofters and invite questions on many subjects - excluding the current commission elections.

Mr Barron said he "was delighted to have this job."  He explained he had 35 years experience as a civil servant working for the UK Government and the Scottish Government, starting out as a statistician for 15 years and then moving on to become a policy adviser, working on education, poverty, health, policing, criminal courts and latterly housing in Scotland.  "I had absolutely no knowledge of Crofting at all" until taking up the post in October last year.  He and his family live in a small community outside of Edinburgh and he has some experience of working in community organisations there.

Looking ahead to the impact of Brexit on agricultural support, Robin Calvert - a crofter from Rogart in Sutherland - made a plea for support payments to be revised to take account of the effort put in to keep land in crofting areas in a useable condition. 

He  was speaking at the annual gathering of the Scottish Crofting Federation being held at Applecross on Saturday March 11th. 

Mr Calvert runs a 44 hectare croft called Reichalmai with his wife Penny and this forms the basis of their company the Well Hung Lamb Company which they have been running since 2001 through their croft butchering unit.  They also have Highland Cattle, free range pigs and poultry, hay and some root crops.  Their aim is to be self-supporting while maintaining high standards of animal welfare and controlling the whole process to add value to their produce.  

The impact of Brexit on Scottish rural development and crofting in particular was the subject of a keynote address by Dr Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe at the Scottish Crofting Federation annual gathering in Applecross.

The meeting on Saturday March 11th heard Michael Russell explain how when he was appointed as 'Minister for Brexit' in August last year that there was no structure in place for dealing with the negotiations.  

Ultimately a committee was established as part of the Joint Ministerial Committee structure between the Governments which he said "was not effective at all".  It was "totally controlled from London" - with all meetings taking place there and always chaired by a UK minister. "There's no decision-making function" within the joint committee structure.  

A new eBook and film – including scenes from Skye - which have already been viewed almost 83,000 times on You Tube a part of VisitScotland promotional campaign for the Highlands.

With the region long celebrated for its rugged landscapes, unspoiled coastlines and strong outdoor and wildlife links, the new video produced by the national tourism organisation brings these locations to life and lifts the lid on what makes the Highlands a unique and memorable destination.

The film and eBook which is broken down into five sections ‘see’, ‘feel’, ‘meet’, ‘do’ and ‘eat’, will be used by VisitScotland to encourage people to ‘Discover Your Hidden Highlands’ and will be promoted across its global digital channels, to encourage people to visit this spring.

Highland Council has agreed all the recommendations made by its Redesign Board and now looks set to having more decisions made at a local level.

Under recommendations put forward the Board proposes a significant shift to localism. More council business would be decided locally, with closer connections between the Local Committees and the communities they serve. The Board recommends changes to governance, with fewer strategic committees and more decision making at local level.

The Board also endorses a more commercial approach for the Council, raising income to help sustain jobs and services across the region. It recommends a new Commercial Board is established for the Council and new practice is put in place to increase commercial opportunities and a more business-like approach.

Lochaber and Skye police again turned to tweets to try and tackle any problems later from over enthusiastic supporters watching the the much awaited England - Scotland rugby union game.

Their advice: "Don't #Hogg the beer 2day. #Finn-ish up early-you wont #Seymour of the game if u #try to #ruck & be a #Hardie man & we have 2 #Laidlaw down."

Communities, businesses and individuals across Scotland are being asked for nominations for new rural awards celebrating estates and landowners that help their local region to flourish.

Scottish Land & Estates has today launched the inaugural ‘Helping it Happen’ awards, which will recognise landowners and rural businesses that play a key role in enabling and supporting success in rural areas.

How the new ships will look

The construction of two dual fuel ferries - one of which is expected to serve Skye - is approaching a new project milestone as the first vessel, currently known as Hull 801, nears the 75 per cent steelwork fabrication stage.

 Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), who are behind the construction projects, have also confirmed that the second vessel, Hull 802 is following closely behind, currently at 60 per cent steelwork fabrication. Both are expected to be in service by late 2018.

The 102 metre vessels will be capable of operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine gas oil (MGO), reducing emissions to help meet Scottish Government reduction targets across transport.  They are being designed to provide a fully flexible, year-round service for Arran and the Skye Triangle routes.

The construction of two new affordable homes at Kilbeg in Sleat has begun bringing with it the start of an exciting new initiative on Skye.

The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) is working in partnership with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) to provide the sustainable low-cost homes for rent next to the college.

This is the first stage of a wider development which is strongly supported by the Scottish Government, The Highland Council and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. It is anticipated the scheme will provide a varied range of housing and commercial opportunities over the next few years to enhance the campus facilities and to create a more vibrant, sustainable community.

Current and aspiring Gaelic media industry professionals are being offered the chance to apply for MG ALBA’s coveted bursary scheme, as it launches its Celtic Media Festival scholarship for 2017.

A total of five places at this year Celtic Media Festival are up for grabs for candidates demonstrating a keen interest in pursuing a career in Gaelic screen media, or for individuals who already work either as a freelancer or with an independent production company producing Gaelic programmes for BBC ALBA.

This year, the Celtic Media Festival is taking place in Douglas on the Isle of Man from 3rd – 5th May. It is an annual three-day celebration acknowledging excellence in broadcasting and film talent throughout the Celtic countries of Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

Iseabail Mactaggart, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at MG ALBA, said: “The Celtic Media Festival is a key event, both for networking and for understanding the trends that affect how viewers are watching and using media content. Our bursary scheme has been extremely popular and is testament to the level of enthusiasm from young talented individuals seeking a career in Gaelic media to grasp every opportunity available.

 

A couple of canine cops could come in handy as police in Portree try to round up their latest street wise offenders.

In fact a local grass – or two – might also help as officers attempt to track them down.

For local police have promised that they will bring to an end the problems being caused by… a flock of sheep.

At the recent meeting of Highland Council's Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee members were told that the flock have been causing concern by wandering unchecked around local streets. Now officers are being tasked to put an end to the woolly walkabouts.

On more significant issues the committee also heard that domestic abuse and cyber crime were new priorities for Police Scotland.

Members of the public are being asked to look around their house, garage and loft for any crutches, zimmer walking frames or walking sticks that they have been given by the NHS that are now no longer needed.

Dr Susan MacGregor, occupational therapy and physiotherapy service manager at Raigmore Hospital, is urging people who no longer use this equipment to return them to the hospital.

She said: “Walking aids are frequently lent out to patients to use during their rehabilitation but they should be returned to us once they are no longer needed, so that we can give them to other patients who need them.

Young people are being sought to help find out if a Portree needs a teenage playpark.

Local Youth Development officer, Annie Davidson, is looking for a few volunteers aged 12-17 from Portree to help Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association complete a residents'  survey about the playpark at the Home Farm development and whether there should be one for teenagers.

Can you help?

 

Broadford based charity Rag Tag n Textile are seeking support.

In a call made via social media they say: "We need more volunteers to help in our fabulous wee shop, so that we can open more days, and a little longer everyday too.

"Even if you can only spare an hour or two a week that would be great. We would be ever so grateful if you can help, and if you can't maybe you know someone who can. Please get in, pop into the shop, or phone us on 01471 822043.

Highland Council has been alerted to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are cold calling and emailing residents claiming to offer a refund.

The companies are asking tenants/residents to give their bank account details, credit/debit card number and the three number security code on the back of the card. The advice for the council is as follows:

Pat

 

From thousands of crew members and volunteers across the UK, Kyle's Pat Mucklow has been singled out by the RNLI as they mark International Women's Day. (March 8)

Since she was just 23 years old Pat, now turned 80, has been involved with the rescue organisation and worn many hats - not to mention a few helmets - as everything from a crew member to station treasurer, secretary, shop volunteer and fundraiser

Recently she was awarded both the RNLI Silver and Gold Badge for working with the charity for over half a century and to mark Pat's involvement the RNLI have put together her very special story.

Originally a member of the Mallaig lifeboat she moved to Kyle just prior to the port's new lifeboat arriving for trials in spring 1995 when she was invited to be the station treasurer.

She said: "Although age prevented me going out to sea any longer, I could still man the radio at the lifeboat station and I had first aid training under my belt.

Daniel at work

Young Skye apprentice Daniel MacIntyre, who took a hard won place with Calmac, has been helping the company show off its success in recruiting new young and skilled staff.

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the 18 year od from Kilmaluag has been telling of his experiences which led him from working on board Uig fishing boats to expanding his expertise in mechanics supported by Calmac

Daniel said:   “The fact that CalMac is a great company to work for, that I had a real interest in engineering and that I wanted to work at sea all made me want to apply.

“I really enjoy meeting new people and learning new things, although I do find it difficult spending lots of time away from home at the moment, but I am beginning to adapt to this.

 

Club members with Counc. Hamish Fraser (second left) and Counc. Drew Miller (third left)

Skye Flying Club has landed a new two year agreement which will allow them to continue their activities at Broadford's Ashaig aerodrome.

Established to encourage more people to experience the thrill of flying over the region, in the longer term the club is looking to purchase another plane but in the meantime have been given the option to use a Bulldog, an aircraft type that has been used by the RAF for flight training.

Now, with the agreement of Highland Council, the local fliers are intending to construct a new taxiway from their hangar to the main apron which will allow the plane to be based full-time at Broadford.


Planning permission is being sought to create a new campsite at Carbost.

If given the go ahead the scheme would involve creating an area to cater for upto 15 caravans and 10 tent on land around 100 metres south east of the Old Schoolhouse.

Included in the scheme is the provision of a toilet/shower block with associated septic tank. Provision of chemical toilet emptying point, drinking waterand a store. At the same time a new access/egress to the public highway would be put in place togetehr with land drainage works as required.

Other items submitted this week include:

The Oyster Shed has been wowing visitors to Carbost since 2012.  

Owner, Paul McGlynn, has received recognition worldwide for his quality seafood and enjoyable visitor experience.  Features in National Geographic, The New York Times and The L.A. Times have promoted the business and given the shop a loyal fan base from all over the world.  

In early April 2017, Paul plans expand his thriving business with the opening of a new shop in Dornoch, Sutherland - where they will continue to showcase their Hebridean shellfish, fresh fish and unique gifts.  

More information can be found on the shop's Facebook page.  

Stuart

The funeral service for mountain rescue man Stuart Ashton will be held on Friday (Mar 10) at the Church of Scotland, Fernlea.

The service will take place at 11am and thereafter to Trien Cemetery with family flowers only requested.

Stuart, the treasurer and a regular member of the Skye Mountain Rescue team on call outs, passed away last week while out walking with colleagues in the hills around Kintail.


Motorists using the A9 are being asked to plan ahead for traffic restrictions as ground investigations forming part of the dualling scheme go ahead on sections closest to Inverness

Works begin on on Monday 13 March and are expected to take three weeks.

Although most of the work will not be carried out on the existing road, the traffic management measures will be in place to allow work beside the carriageway to be carried out safely. The traffic management arrangements will include short, alternate single file traffic sections controlled by temporary traffic signals.

They've done it...and all thanks to you.

In just over a week Skye's most famous ferry, the Glenachulish, has seen supporters come forward in their droves to help cover the costs of on-going refurbishment.

The ferry company had needed to raise £5,000 to cover the cost of replacing the boat's wheelhouse. They did just that and just a bit more with a £5,257 sum raised.

The Commission on Parliamentary Reform comes to Skye this week.

On Thursday 9 March Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Sleat will be the place to find out more on how the Scottish Parliament works and to have your say about it.

The event runs from 3pm-4pm with tickets free of charge although places have to booked either by calling 0131-3486400 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fairy Pools

 A community consultation on the Fairy Pools and Carbost Playpark projects was launched in February at the Minginish Community Hall Association AGM.

To secure further funding, it must be demonstrated that the community supports the projects and that the Minginish Community Hall Association is acting on behalf of the Minginish community.

Fire and rescue crews were called to a farm building on Skye to tackle a blaze thought to have been caused by a young calf.

The incident occurred on Friday (Mar 03) at Totarder, Struan and involved fire fighters being on the scene for nearly three hours.

Although the service could not confirm it, it is believed that a heat lamp might have been knocked over by the animal which then ignited hay bales.


An impressive field of 37 runners took part in the Sconser 10k race in (yet again) horrible wet conditions. 

The race starts at the south end of the Moll road and makes its way along the coast road to finish 6 miles later at Sconser Golf Club. 

First back was Chris James in a time of 39 minutes and 14 seconds.  He was pushed all the way by Gareth Craft who finished in 39.32 and Ali Gunn in 40.08. 

First lady home and 4th overall was Iona Craft in 40 minutes and 46 seconds.  Second lady home was Elaine Deas (51.06) and third lady was Rosanna MacDonald (52.07). 

The band

Four of Scotland’s most experienced folk performers come together in Portree later this month for what is being billed as a true sing-a-long experience.

Auld Hat - New Heids, comprising of brothers Ian and Fraser Bruce together with Pete Clark and Greygor Lowrey will be at the Aros Centre on March 31 to bring a night of Scottish folk songs.

The basis of the show is a revival of the 60's and 70's folk scene with songs seldom heard any more.

Last year the band toured Scottish Theatres from Orkney down to Stranraer and it was a huge success culminating in having their very own concert at CELTIC CONNECTIONS in January this year.

SMO students

A line-up of award-winning artists is set to descend on stages in the south of Skye over the next few months as SEALL (Skye Events for All) rolls out its brand new 2017 programme.

 Last year, the Sleat-based community-led live arts promoters celebrated 25 years of bringing some of the country’s leading performing artists to the south of Skye. It also added to its list of awards, Venue of the Year for SEALL at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2015.

 Working from offices and venues at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, SEALL delivers over 80 live events a year, which include the annual two-month-long summer Fèis an Eilein (The Skye Festival) in July and August and the Skye Swing Jazz Festival at the end of October.

 Scottish traditional music provides the basis for SEALL’s work but the annual programme also brings the best known names in music to the south of Skye featuring jazz, opera, world folk, new music and dance.

Are Portree's long suffering NHS dental patients finally going to get something to smile about?

In recent years locals - and those from surrounding areas - have had no choice but to grin and bear it as the failure to retain dentists at the Public Dental Service Clinic at Sraid An Eorna led to difficulty getting appointments and latterly, for most, only being able to access treatment in emergencies.

Now though NHS Highland have announced that a thought to be substantial number of patents at the clinic, principally those not prioritised as having additional needs, are being transferred to a new new dental Practice from later this month.

In letter to those effected, NHS Highland's Clinical Dental Director, John Lyon said: "As of 13th March, 2017 your registration for NHS dental services will be transferred to Portree Dental Care, a new dental Practice which is opening in the same premises as the Portree Dental Clinic. Portree Dental Care will be run by dentist Mr Zahid Ahmad."


They are nearly there. Skye's famous ferry,Glenachulish, is just a few hundrd pounds short of its £5,000 target figure.

At the start of the week Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company launched an appeal to raise the money to help pay for a new wheelhose for the boat, now hailed as the last manually operated turntable ferry in the world.

And, today (Mar 03) the company announced that they have had a massiv e £4,700 donated so far.

Work has now been completed to replace the steps at Portree's Liziigary Bridge so giving easier - and safer access - to the local nature walk.

Members and volunteers from Portree & Braes Community Trust also gave up their spare time to carry out the clearance of scrub trees and rubbish at Bayfield as part of the overall initiative.

 

The new Visit Sleat brochure for 2017 is now being distributed all across Scotland in Landmark Information racks.

Locally copies are available in Sleat at the Community Shop at Armadale and at the CalMac port offices in Mallaig and Armadale.

More information about plans to bring new affordable homes to Staffin is being made available to locals.

On Saturday (Mar 4) Rural Design architect Alan Dickson will be on hand to discuss the proposed site layout and design at a community consultation drop-in event.

 Local residents will be able to comment on the development at the SCT office between 2pm and 5pm. Anybody unable to make that time can call into the SCT office the following week from Monday, March 6 to Friday, March 10, between 9am and 5pm, and view the plans then.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) is progressing plans for six new houses and business units at a site on common grazings tenanted by the Stenscholl Township. SCT is working in partnership with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association to deliver the new affordable houses, which would be the first built in Staffin since 1999.

Police in Portree are appealing for information following a suspicious incident in the town. 

Officers received a report of an incident during which a female in her forties was left alarmed and shaken following verbal contact from a man within a vehicle. 

Stuart doing what he loved


Skye Mountain Rescue are mourning the loss of one of their own.

Treasurer and long standing member, Stuart Ashton, died doing what he loved best, being out in the hills.

The family man, who together with his wife Tania, ran their B&B business at Crossal, collapsed while out walking with two others, also believed to be mountain rescue colleagues, in the Kintail area.

Stuart is thought to  have been on his way to a meeting when the group decided to spend some time in the hills. After he collapsed the alarm was raised and Kintail mountain rescue team were involved. The exact cause of death is not yet known.

In a glowing tribute to their former colleague Skye Mountain Rescue Team announced via social media: "It is with great sadness and regret that Skye MRT wish to announce the recent death of one of its most valuable and respected team members: Stuart Ashton.


Family fund-raiser Kenneth Gillies has said a big thank you for the fantastic support received for a local cause.

Last month the Skye man and family members organised a charity event that was very much close to their hearts.

Kenneth said then : Last October I lost my uncle Duncan Mackinnon to Huntington's disease after suffering from it for a number of years.

"I'm hoping to try and raise some money for the Scottish Huntington's charity because their going to need help in the future. I would be grateful to all the local folk of Skye and beyond if they could come and support us on the night. "

And local folk certainly did. For the ceilidh, staged at Portree Community Centre with music by The Ballochmyle Ceilidh Band brought in a mammoth £7,150 for the cause.


Another supermarket product, this time from Tesco, has been recalled after discovery of a foreign object in it.

Just weeks after the Co-op was forced to issue a similar notice after a small battery was discovered in one of their chocolate bunny products, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that Quorn Foods Ltd is recalling Quorn Meat Free Mince because the product may contain small pieces of metal

 

Skye's successful young film makers, along with others from across the Highlands, were the focus for some special attention from council chiefs

Their winning ways in the ninth annual Gaelic FilmG Awards was highly commended as members of The Highland Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee met.

Committee Chairman and Skye Councillor, Drew Millar said: “Congratulations to all the Highland entries, shortlists and winners of FilmG. I am particularly pleased to see so many of our schools, both pupils and staff taking part in this prestigious competition, which I am delighted that Highland Council was able to support as sponsor of the open Best Comedy award.”

Director of Care and Learning, Bill Alexander said: “We have some extremely talented people here in the Highlands, young and ‘older’, whose talents and creativity shine in the spotlight of opportunity created by FilmG. A huge well done to all those who took part and to the Highland winners.

A proposal to relocate Dunvegan Primary School to a new building received approval today (1 March 2017) from The Highland Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee.

Members of the committee agreed to recommend to The Highland Council that the school should be re-located to a new build at Lonmore, less than a mile from its current location.  The new site offers the opportunity for the school to be co-located with planned new community facilities.

Remote sensor monitoring specialist, EkkoSense, has teamed up with electricity network provider, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), to trial an early warning sensor design.  This software could allow power companies to predict storm damage before it happens.

The initial trial will take place on the Isle of Skye this spring.  

EkkoSense's solution combines three key technologies: an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor, LoRa long-range wireless communications, and solar power - all of which will help detect when a power pole leans further than it should in high winds.  The device communicates the need for maintenance before any further damage causes it to collapse. 

Red Roof Café in Glendale will be closed for the 2017 season, it was announced today (Wednesday March 1st) on their Facebook Page.

Owners Gareth and Iona Craft state: "We have been struggling to recruit enough staff for this season, and this year we have had to fill more roles than usual due to a number of staff deciding to take a break.  

"Another significant factor in making this decision is our desire to develop the croft in order to grow some more of our own fresh produce.  In October 2016 we acquired the remainder of the original 5-acre croft on which the café is situated.  We have been working hard to develop the croft over the winter, and have decided to continue this effort through the summer of 2017.

The penalty for using a mobile phone or hand-held device while driving will increase, warn police.

Today (Wednesday 1st March 2017) the penalty doubles, increasing from £100 fine and 3 penalty points to £200 and 6 penalty points.

In support of this Police Scotland is undertaking a campaign that will run until Sunday 5 March 2017 in relation to this and other distraction-related offences.

For new/young drivers who have held their licence for less than 2 years and are caught for such an offence, this could result in you losing your licence.

Kyle lifeboat in action

Kyle RNLI are looking for volunteers to step forward and help run their lifeboat gift shop.

They say: "We are looking for volunteers to join our small, friendly team at the RNLI gift shop in Kyle of Lochalsh from April to October and also help out at a number of events through the summer.

"From Easter onwards, the shop will open 11am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday inclusive.
We are particularly looking for people who can offer a minimum of two days/8hrs per month. No previous experience is required.

"Duties involve opening and closing the shop, serving customers and generally keeping things tidy. Full training and induction will be given and volunteers will be covered by the RNLI Volunteer Commitment. "

To find out more email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

 

Kathryn Joseph


Budding Skye music promoter Fiona Mackee has played her part in bringing a Scottish Album of the Year Award winner to perform on the island.

For the 17 years old from Sleat is part of a brand new initiative to develop music industry talent of the future by setting up the local performance of singer and song writer Kathryn Joseph.

Her album "bones you have thrown me and blood I've spilled" won the national award in 2015.

Now Kathyrn will play at Sleat's Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Thursday 16 March with demand for tickets expected to be high.

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